Today marks the 5-year anniversary since the untimely, and potentially intentional, death of arguably the greatest live performer of all time, Michael Jackson.
The level of talent and originality he displayed in his live shows is yet to be out done, and all too infrequently even rivaled. And with my recent trip to the Motown Museum at Hitsville, U.S.A. in Detroit, my love for the man’s entire body of work has only grown lately.
In a sense, Michael Jackson is responsible for why I became an entertainer. When I was 5, my parents took me to the Stone Mountain Park Laser Show. There were some technical difficulties that night which delayed the start of the show until long after dark.
I remember music being played over the PA while unseen and faces frantically tried to get things started.
As the crowd began to grow restless with the wait, the powers that be queued up “Billie Jean,” and an astonishing roar was cast which seemed to echo off the mountain forever. That was my first experience with what the right song played at the right time could do to thousands of people in unison (contrary to another of my experiences involving the same song about which I wrote here). So I did exactly what every other 5-year-old who has ever witnessed the moonwalk has done whenever they hear “Billie Jean”: I stood up and tried to imitate it.
Now that I’m in my 30’s, I realize that the version of this memory that plays out in my head more than likely drastically differs from everyone else’s reality much in the same way that my favorite episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” depicts their high school reunion choreographed dance routine as seen here. Nevertheless, this is what happened:
After a few moments of my absolutely spot on, perfect impersonation of Michael Jackson dancing, so many people had started to gather around that the laser show production crew had to point a GIANT spotlight on me so that every one in attendance could see me with ease. Once the song faded out, the most enormously epic round of applause and blackout screaming that has ever been given to a performer in the history of the world occurred. Exactly as the noise level began to lower (between 25-35 minutes approx.), all systems were go, and the show started immediately with a thunderous cheer. During the lackluster 12 minutes of “south will rise again” themed bigotry that followed, I proceeded to make my way through the enormous crowd delivering much sought after hi-fives.
No matter how much of that memory actually parallels reality in anyway, the one portion of this story I know for a fact I remember with 100% accuracy is that on the long walk back to my parents’ car at the end of the night, I thought it would be a good idea to do a little recap of how incredibly incredible I am. That’s when I moonwalked into a bench which I then flipped over completely, landing on the side of my head, and an awkward portion of my neck and shoulder on the other side.
Even still, I had gotten a taste of what it was like to make people happy by performing for them, and I was hooked for life. To this day, I’ve never looked back (unless I was moonwalking).
So in honor of my recent retirement from cover music in an effort to focus more on originals, as well as the 5-year anniversary of the death of the man who was ultimately responsible for inspiring me to get into this business, I wanted to share with everyone this live performance by the artist who wrote one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs. I hope you all enjoy, and please leave me a comment to let me know your favorite memory of how Michael’s music inspired you.